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My girl Sophie, by Joan Saliskas

Sophie never was a lap cat or a cat who purred – until the last nine months of her life. In March 2021, Sophie unexpectedly started jumping on my lap and purring. I was shocked because she had never done that in the almost 17 years we had been together. She had been a feisty adventurer, but not a purring lap cat. I thought that perhaps Sophie was comforting me in my grief – my cat Percy had died a few months before – and that she was also receiving comfort. Or perhaps she was affected by an exercise I had just learned – to just sit and be present with your animal. The first day I sat and was present with Sophie was the day that she first jumped on my lap and purred. Whatever the reason, everything changed from then on for Sophie and me.

Then in September 2021, Sophie was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was given a few days to a few months to live. After that, she took every opportunity to lie on top of me as I lay on my sofa, and she kneaded me and purred as she fell asleep. I started sleeping on my sofa every night so that Sophie could have me to herself and not be disturbed in my bed by my other cat, Middie. I think Sophie knew she was dying, and we both wanted as much time together as possible.

And so for three months, every night Sophie lay on top of me, kneading me, purring, purring, and purring as she fell asleep. I am so grateful for this gift of her love, and I will never forget those bittersweet nights.

Sophie was euthanized at home on December 3, 2021. I miss her presence. I miss her lying on top of me and purring.

As I told her many times in her final months, she will always be my girl.

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